Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
Picking the top anything of the year is never an easy proposition, and as we complete our third list of top Utah high school sports stories of the year for Preps Utah, we found that this list is no exception.
For the 2013-2014 school year, we released our Top 20 stories of the year, but this year, we have expanded our list to 25 stories, some of which combine multiple events that share common themes. Since the goal is not to be exactly right, as anything of this nature is entirely subjective, but to recognize as many of the great accomplishments of the student athletes across the state as we can, we hope you will understand.
Beginning July 13 and continuing for the next three weeks, we will release one or two items on our list per day, beginning with No. 25 and working our way up to story No. 1. Today, we announce No. 9.
#9 – A Day for Dons
The southern portion of Utah County is in growth mode, but the addition of two new high schools (Salem Hills and Maple Mountain) has not hurt the power position in the diamond sports at Spanish Fork High. It has, however, ratcheted up significantly the level of competition as the new schools join the Dons as baseball and softball superpowers.
The 2013 spring sports season ended with Salem Hills claiming 4A state softball and baseball titles on back-to-back days, with the baseball championship coming in a head-to-head battle with Maple Mountain. Two years later, the 2015 state tournaments, interrupted all along by wet fields and inclement weather, finished on the same day, Friday, May 22.
The schedules called, as usual, for the softball championship to be decided a day earlier, but Mother Nature did not cooperate. The titans of Southern Utah County, however, did. The 4A state championship softball battle that Friday morning featured Spanish Fork against its neighbors from Maple Mountain, with the Golden Eagles needing to win a pair of games to take the title away.
Later that afternoon, a similar scene was set to unfold at Utah Valley University, where the 4A baseball title game pitted the Dons, still in the winner’s bracket, against once-beaten Maple Mountain. It was a community party that would start in Taylorsville and then make its way to Orem, but in the end it was Spanish Fork doing the celebrating.
The Day for the Dons is our No. 9 story of the 2014-2015 school sports year.
After winning the state softball championship in walk-off fashion, the Lady Dons made a grand entrance at Brent Brown Ballpark to an ovation from the Spanish Fork faithful, just in time to see their baseball team come from behind to cap a day of champions.
Up first, the softball teams delivered a low-scoring pitcher’s duel at the Valley Softball Complex, as Maple Mountain’s Carly Guymon battled with Cambrie Hazel, her Spanish Fork counterpart. The Golden Eagles had the early advantage after Bailey Withey led off the top half of the first inning with a home run, and it looked like Guymon was going to be able to fight her way through to make that single tally stand up.
She scattered Spanish Fork hits throughout the contest – the Dons had eight for the game but left eight base runners stranded – but it was a walk that hurt her in the home half of the third. Spanish Fork loaded the bases with singles by Payton Sorensen, Cheyenne Dowley and Dani Perkins, but Guymon got a strike out and an infield pop fly and was on the verge of escaping the jam until she walked Cheyenne Pratt to force in the tying run.
The 1-1 score stood up into the bottom of the seventh when that same part of the batting order finished things for Spanish Fork. Dowley and Perkins opened the final frame with base hits, but a pair of fly ball outs had Guymon within one out of extra innings, but first she had to deal with Pratt, and that turned out to be a problem. Pratt blasted a two-out, three-run home run over the barrier in left-center field to deliver the banner to the Lady Dons.
Drama x 2
Coming off that finish, who could have expected anything less than a late-game rally when the same two schools took to the baseball diamond in a game that started about the time the softball players were celebrating their victory.
In the baseball half of the championship doubleheader, Spanish Fork struggled to get anything going offensively for most of the contest, but with the softball state champions in the stands fresh off their walk-off win, the Dons exploded for four runs in the bottom of the sixth to run a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 advantage.
After Tanner Nielsen closed out Maple Mountain in the seventh, it was celebration time for the Spanish Fork boys as well. It didn’t come via the long ball like it did for the softball team, but it was the type of steady rally that is typical of Dons’ baseball. They stuck with it and battled until finally finding the answers just in time.
McKennon Jarvis, who had walked to lead off the inning, scored on a Taylor Henderson single and then Henderson scored on a fielder’s choice to pull Spanish Fork within one run. A walk to Riley Daniels and a Nic Roberts base hit put two runners on base with two outs and it was Devin Argyle who delivered in the clutch.
Argyle singled to center field to chase home the tying run, and when the ball got away in the outfield, Roberts raced around from first base with the go-ahead (and eventual game-winning run).
Two dramatic wins, two Spanish Fork state championships won on the same day against their cross-town rivals. It’s No. 9 in our countdown.
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